Thompson & Ford Lumber Company at Grayburg, Texas (excerpts from American Lumberman, 1910)  
  Source: “Lone Star Pine”, American Lumberman, September 26, 1908. Chicago, 1908. pp. 67-150.  
The mill of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company at Grayburg is situated two miles south of Sour Lake, Tex., at the crossing of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad, running now between Beaumont and Houston, and of that branch of the Southern Pacific system which runs from Nome, Tex., on the main line of the Southern Pacific north to Sour Lake, and thus six miles from Nome and twenty miles from Beaumont, Tex., is the latest built and most modern saw mill in which the Thompsons are interested.

The Thompson & Ford Lumber Company has as officers J. Lewis Thompson, president and general manager; Alexis C. Ford, vice president; Liggett N. Thompson, secretary; A. E. Kerr, treasurer.

The directors of this company, all of Texas, are J. Lewis Thompson, Houston; Alexis C. Ford, Ft. Worth; Liggett N. Thompson, Houston; A. E. Kerr, Grayburg; Jonathan Lane, Houston; Hoxie H. Thompson, Willard; Alexander Thompson, Doucette; Harry G. Cern, Houston; W. B. Ward, Ft. Worth.

Sour Lake, Tex., is a typical oil town after the gushers have quit gushing and the affair has settled down to the running of a certain number of gallons of oil daily, which smells bad and makes somebody a lot of money.

The mill town which is building up around the plant of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company where the Southern Pacific branch crosses the St. Louis & San Francisco road a mile south of Sour Lake proper is going to be a beautiful little village in itself by and by, and has already taken on many artistic attributes. It has already been christened "Grayburg" because the name is euphonious and easy to remember, chiefly because all of the buildings in the town will be painted gray, and of course an application is in for the nomination of Grayburg as a postoffice.

Already the St. Louis & San Francisco, with characteristic enterprise, has erected a beautiful little depot at Grayburg, and the Southern Pacific has thought enough of its opportunities to bid for the passenger traffic and freight as well by making Grayburg a. regular station stop.

The railroad facilities of this new saw mill town of Grayburg, state of Texas, are thus second to none in the entire yellow pine empire of the southwest. This fact will always be a strong point in the progress and a feature of the prowess of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company. For it is easy to understand the devastating disease of "car shortage" will be felt only sporadically at Grayburg, if at all.

The town of Grayburg is situated practically altogether south of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad, which runs east and west, and upon either side of the Southern Pacific railroad, which runs north and south.

The saw mill portion of the town lies southwest of the crossing of the two railroads and the residence portion largely lies southeast of the crossing of the two roads. In the residence portion of the town will also be situated a very commodious office building for the use of the lumber company and two model mercantile buildings which, when fully equipped and running, will be most worthy of especial description in these columns as examples of what the general stores and drug stores of a saw mill town should really be.

The general merchandise building stands north and south in general direction, is 68x100 feet in area and when finished will be one of the best appointed general stores in that part of Texas—certainly the best of its kind connected with a saw mill in Texas. It will not only bid for the trade of the saw mill people but for that of the entire country side as well.

The drug store, a hundred or more feet to the east, lies in the same general direction as the merchandise store and is housed in a building 24x60 feet in area, which will contain besides the drugs and fancy goods department a fine laboratory and physician's offices. This drug store has been fitted up at considerable expense with a fine line of shelving, show cases etc., and will also contain the postoffice.

Just now the general store business of the company is being done in a little, low, one-story, two-room affair on the saw mill side of the town of Grayburg, where even now is being done a business of $10,000 a month. The management of the mercantile end of the business expects to do a business of at least $120,000 annually.

A rather larger number of employees are now enrolled at Grayburg than will naturally be required later, when construction days are over. At present the various departments show employees as follows: 1 person to look after the timber; 56 in the woods-work; 44 on the railroad; 4 taking care of logs in storage at the mill; 43 at the saw mill; 22 in the planing mill; 20 taking care of the kilns and lumber in and out; 50 doing the yarding, shedding and shipping; 4 in fire protection, watchmen etc.; 4 in the machine shops; 7 in the mercantile department, and 4 in the mill office—259 people all told.

Early History of Grayburg.
Five miles west of where the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company mill now stands at Grayburg, one mile south of Sour Lake, Tex., was a small mill owned and operated by George Enloe. Doucette & Wise—the well known P. A. Doucette and a Mr. Wise of Beaumont—bought the George Enloe mill in 1904, ran it about four months and moved it to Batson, Tex.

There were two other small mills near Sour Lake during the oil boom, but the Enloe mill was easily the first one of importance. After the boom went out of Batson this mill was moved back to Sour Lake and the old, deserted plant stands yet, one and a half miles west of the present Thompson & Ford Lumber Company's plant.

That mill was variously owned until the Frisco road entered the Sour Lake neighborhood and the partnership became known as the Frisco Lumber Company. Then A. C. Ford and W. B. Ward, jr., of Ft. Worth, Tex., organized a company, duly incorporated, known as the Frisco Lumber Company, the latter part of November, 1906, A. C. Ford becoming president; W. B. Ward, jr., vice president and A. E. Kerr secretary and treasurer.

In February, 1907, the Frisco Lumber Company began the building of a single band mill on the site of the plant now owned by the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company.

For several years the incorporators had owned nearly 100,000,000 feet of timber in that quarter of Hardin county. The purchase of the "Little Frisco"—as P. A. Doucette refers to his sometime venture—brought over to the interest 21,000,000 feet more stumpage. That amount of timber warranted the erection of a single band mill, but it was not until later, when the Frisco Lumber Company purchased the holdings of the Star & Crescent Lumber Company, that a double band mill was at all contemplated or considered worth while. It was at this juncture that J. Lewis Thompson and his associates came on the scene and the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company was organized, in April, 1907, with J. Lewis Thompson president, A. C. Ford vice president, Liggett N. Thompson secretary, A. E. Kerr treasurer and J. Lewis Thompson, A. C. Ford and Liggett N. Thompson and Jonathan Lane, J. C. Harrison and A. E. Kerr, Alexander Thompson and Hoxie H. Thompson, directors.

Timber Lands at Grayburg.
The timber holdings of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company are located in Hardin, Liberty and Jefferson counties, Texas, on the border of the lowlands of the rice belt. The timber consists of short-leaf yellow pine almost exclusively, and, growing in a region that is semi-boggy nine months in the year, the growth of the timber has been rapid and the quality is very fine. It produces soft pine lumber easily worked, of which 60 percent is upper grades.

Few yellow pine operators have so favorable an outlook as that of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company, when the boggy conditions are left out of consideration, but these are being met by the use of a McGiffert skidding machine in the logging operations, which has not only proven to be efficacious but economical as well, and thereby the genius of man has triumphed over natural difficulties. The writer was fortunate in making his drives through this timber in a comparatively dry season, but even then a spongy condition of the surface of the ground was found in many places. As a firm bottom was beneath it wet feet and muddy clothing were the only inconveniences met; the team had no difficulty in going anywhere desired. The accompanying photographs illustrate some of the more open tracts of the timber.

There is more than the usual amount of open wood, almost as clear of undergrowth as in longleaf yellow pine.

In the building of the logging railroad a little ditching readily drains the right of way, and no trouble is experienced with soft track.

The timber holdings aggregate 51,208 acres, on which are 270,500,000 feet of yellow pine timber and 25,865,000 feet of valuable hardwoods. Of these hardwoods the most plentiful is also the most valuable. The proportions, in feet, of the various hardwoods are as follows: white oak, 12,715,000; red and water oak, 3,960,000; post oak, 3,945,000; ash, 980,000; hickory, 460,000; cypress, 1,005,000; various varieties of gum, 2,800,000 feet.

The pine timber averages nearly 6,000 feet to the acre, a very excellent showing when the large amount of prairie land and the young pine thickets are taken into consideration—and, remember, this average mentioned is for shortleaf yellow pine timber, which makes the growth rather remarkable.

As all this timber has grown almost within the knowledge of living residents the small pine insures a reproduction of merchantable timber before the close of the operation, even should no efforts be made to reproduce it on the cutover lands. As the holdings adjoin the profitable oil field north of Sour Lake the future value of the land may have an impetus greater than from the production of timber or lumber.

In the course of the prosperous years which are now to come to the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company there is no doubt but what the present holdings are so situated as to control not less than 150,000,000 feet shortleaf yellow pine stumpage additional to its present holdings.

Counting the hardwoods as estimated by the recent expert survey, the yellow pine timber now owned, and that Which will naturally be purchased in the course of time, there should ultimately be manufactured at the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company mills not less than 446,365,000 feet, from which with the normal capacity of the mills placed at 30,000,000 feet annually—day run—it will readily be seen that the company has an active life before it of at least fifteen years.

Woods Operations at Grayburg.
The woods operations at Grayburg are very modernly done and with very high class loading and skidding apparatus.

In the manipulation of the logs and putting them on the logging cars are employed at this place a McGiffert skidder and a McGiffert loader. As the timber of this company is located on flat lands the skidding machinery is admirably adapted for the purpose for which it is used.

Six men have been manipulating the loader in the last three months and have handled 100,000 feet daily. The loader is of the swing-boom type, weighs between 35 and 40 tons and works on the track, handling itself and a train load of logs, if necessary. It places its own cars.

The woods camps in this operation are four in number and are known as the skidder, team, grading and tie camps.

The skidder works ahead of the loading crew, of course, brings the logs into the railroad track, works on both sides, runs four lines at a time over four separate drums, and brings the logs in 600, 800 and 1,000 feet, readily. The skidder cleans up the corners; in fact, brings in all logs wherever they may fall within a thousand feet on either side of the track. The logs are decked with this machine in piles of 25,000 to 35,000 feet, located from 50 to 60 feet of the tracks on either side.

To operate the skidder are employed four drum men, four riders, four tong setters, four deckers, one fireman, two wood cutters, two flagmen, one hostler, one foreman and a woman to cook; twenty-four people in all.

In the woods operations arc employed, all told, fifty-four men, and in stock are used twelve horses, eight mules and six oxen.

The Railroad at Grayburg.
The railroad at Grayburg has already been constructed to the extent of eight miles, counting all switches, sidings etc. It is the standard gage, built, of 35-pound steel, and employs as rolling stock one 32-ton H. K. Porter oil burning locomotive, twenty-four logging cars, one caboose, one feed car, two water cars and two hand cars.

This railroad is a very simply built affair, practically without trestles or bridges, as the country is practically level.

Including the construction gang this railroad now has in its employ thirty men, and with the one engine and the car equipment mentioned the road is now delivering four 8-car trains of logs daily to the mill. With the more rapid advancement of affairs this delivery will be cut down to three trains daily and the trains increased from eight to twelve cars.

Log Storage at Grayburg.
At Grayburg is a made pond, for the storage of logs, which will hold 500,000 feet. This pond, however, will soon be enlarged by extension on the south of its present location to a 2,000,000 capacity.

Four men manipulate the logs at this pond and deliver them to the haulup chain.

The Saw Mill at Grayburg.
The Thompson & Ford Lumber Company has at Grayburg, Tex., one mile south of Sour Lake, one of the neatest and most complete and smooth running double band mills now producing lumber in the south. It is a model in every particular and deserves therefore a detailed and specific description, both architecturally and mechanically.

Beautiful illustrations of the exterior and interior of the plant are printed in this illustrated article of the Thompson saw milling interests, but even the superior pictures presented will not tell the whole story.

This plant was begun February 20, 1907, and at that time was contemplated a single band mill, but, as the early history division of this text has recounted, the plan was changed by the advent of the Thompsons, and the doubling up of the holdings of the timber, so the plant had to be doubled in size to meet the additional requirements, and this delayed the final completion of the work.

The Mill Building Architecturally.
The saw mill building proper is 56x174 feet in area. It stands east and west as to general direction and is located west of the Southern Pacific railroad and south of the St. Louis & San Francisco main line tracks at Grayburg.

The architecture of this saw mill is of such character as to secure stability at moderate cost. The posts are based on brick piers set in cement at bottom, running to the solid ground, which piers are seven feet long for each bearing. The framing of the lower or ground floor is of 14x14 yellow pine timbers and the first floor in the clear is 16 feet high. Between the posts are double braces of 6x8 timbers. The actual floor of the first story is really three feet from the ground and is made of yellow pine shiplap.

On the second floor the posts are of 10x12 stuff and the braces are 4x10 singles. The story is twelve feet between the saw floor and filing room floor. The third floor is 28x56 feet in area and is well lighted from both ends, with thirty windows, the roof running crossways across the buildings. The roofing of the building is of galvanized, unpainted iron furnished by the F. W. Heitmann Company, of Houston.

The power house, 53x75 feet in area, stands east and west in general direction, is built of brick and has 13-inch walls, 23 feet to the eaves, 33 feet to the comb board over all. These walls are reinforced by pilasters, eight pilasters to the whole building. The roof is steel trussed, corrugated iron, 24-gage. The foundation is 24 inches deeper than the surface of the earth and is laid in cement.

The fuel house is to the north of the boiler end of the power house, and is 29x43 feet in area, built of brick, walls 23 feet high. The walls at the bottom are 22 inches thick for the first six feet; above that 18 inches thick for eight feet, and for nine feet above that 13 inches thick. The roof is of corrugated iron, 24-inch gage, steel trusses throughout.

All the steel work of this plant was furnished by the Worden-Allen Company, of Milwaukee and Chicago.

The Boilers and Engines.
The boilers are five in number, 72 inches in diameter and 18 feet long, made by the Casey-Hedges Company, of Chattanooga, Tenn., and are of its famous steamboat setting, dutch ovens, walls between, a battery of three and a battery of two boilers all connected, operated independently.

The floor in front of the automatic feed traps, where the fuel enters the boilers, is ten feet wide, full length of the room, of 1/4-inch sheet iron, supported by 5-inch I beams, and has an iron stairway leading up to it.

Each boiler has separate stacks, each stack 96 feet high and 36 inches in diameter.

There are two feed-water pumps for these boilers, under the engine room to the west, one Marsh and one Gardiner duplex.

The feed chain bringing the refuse, sawdust etc. to the boilers is 162 feet long, and when the mill is shut down a small 7x7 engine in the boiler room runs an independent conveyor, which feeds the furnace of the boilers directly from the shavings storage vault, where the surplus of shavings is deposited from the saw mill and is blown into the vault by the blowers from the planing mill.

In the engine room is a 500-horsepower combination Houston, Stanwood & Gamble twin engine, 18x24 in size. In the engine room also is a 400-horsepower National heater. In that room will also be located and soon will be installed an electric light plant.

Lower Floor and Belting.
The lower machinery floor is interesting in its simplicity and is so arranged that every pulley and bearing can be reached with dispatch; thus speedy inspection of this lower floor and machinery can be made at any time. The line shaft is 174 feet long and the full length of the building, and is carried on posts by bracket boxes. The main drive of this shaft is 5-7/8 inches, tapering down to 3-15/16 inches at each end.

There is one counter shaft for the edgers driven at right angles by a core wheel at 3-15/16 inches. One short counter shaft, driving the left hand band mill, is 3-15/16 inches by 20 feet long.

The lower or ground floor of the mill is very simple in its construction and is designed for the handling of refuse, there being only four conveyors, one trash conveyor near each carriage, one acting as a double

Plant and Residences.
conveyor, taking sawdust from the edger and delivering it into the boiler house conveyor; one conveyor under edgers, and one under the log jack taking bark from the log chain.

The refuse conveyor carrying the refuse that is to be burned runs to the south of the mill 250 feet, and is made of 7/8-inch round link chain with Coleman cleats, in which has not yet been one of the single breaks so often the embarrassing condition in the installation of new mills. One end of the refuse burner has 60 feet of iron trough, making a drop of slabs 44 feet to the ground. The pan is supported by four pipe posts, well braced in the shape of an "A" frame.

The belting of this entire mill was manufactured by the Sykes Belting Company, of Minneapolis, and is all of leather. The general line shaft is driven by a 38-inch double leather belt; the slasher and trimmer are belted and driven from the main shaft by 14-inch double leather belts, and the edger by 18-inch double leather belts.

The floor is equipped with two oscillating niggers, two oscillating kickers, two oscillating loaders and one dogging cylinder.

The Saw Mill Proper.
The logs are hauled into the mill up a log slide 300 feet long by an inch round chain of best make.

The log deck is equipped with a 72-inch circular cutoff saw operated by gears and crank, which is eminently the proper appliance for that work in any mill whose logs are brought to it in long lengths. This arrangement at Grayburg seems to handle the log cut-off with more facility than much more formidable machines that the writer has often seen, and is certainly more simple in construction and is operated with more economy of power than much more elaborate affairs.

On the saw floor are two Diamond Iron Works band mills, exactly alike, with 8-foot wheels for 14-inch saws, these mills using Simonds saws exclusively.

The carriages are of the Allis-Chalmers make, three blockers, and are manipulated by 12-inch feed, one 40 and the other 48 feet long.

The right hand mill saws up to 24 feet and the left hand mill up to 36 feet; each carriage is furnished with a Kilgore buffer, which Millwright Badstuebner considers a very superior affair.

On this saw floor are two edgers, each a 54-inch, each having four 24-inch saws, both manipulated by lever set works.

No set works had been put on the carriages when the writer made his inspection of the plant, but an arrangement had been made to adjust Trout set works, which are undoubtedly now in operation.

On this floor is an undertrimmer, 24-feet long, built by the Lufkin Foundry & Machine Works, carrying 20-inch saws; also a 5-saw slasher, carrying five 40-inch saws, the slasher 24 feet long.

The lumber is handled to the various collateral machines from the saw and, in the matter of timbers and heavy planking and the like to the timber docks, with 10x24 inch rolls, chain driven, cast-iron in character, located four feet apart, a section of these rolls at the rear end of the mill driven by gears and friction, so that they may be handled backward and forward.

The filing room machinery is of the highest type of automatic models, is situated in the third floor of the building and is driven by separate 7x7 vertical engine.

An addition, on the north side of the mill, 24x50 feet in area, has been arranged and erected for installing later on the lath mill machinery now on hand.

This saw mill has a dust eradicator system which for fire protection should be in every mill in the world. It is a simple affair and consists of an inch pipe running to all quarters of the mill, having eight stations for the attaching of 3/4-inch hose, through which compressed air will be thrown to clean the impalpable dust that gathers on the beams of a mill, the pressure to be furnished by the air compressor used in the pump house. Anyone who has been so unfortunate as to have been compelled to see a saw mill catch on fire, and thus to have witnessed the powder-like flash which usually runs instantaneously over all the beams in the mill, practically setting the entire mill on fire at one and the same moment, should certainly appreciate this simple device for making that casualty impossible. Having seen this apparatus work is difficult to understand how any mechanical engineer planning a saw mill would fail to insist upon its installation.

The daily capacity of this mill is even now, in its formative state, over 100,000 feet a day. The number of employees is thirty-five. Sixty-five men would run this saw mill night and day, and it would easily produce 200,000 feet of lumber with a day and night run. It is planned to manufacture at Grayburg about 30,000,000 feet of lumber annually. Simonds saws are used exclusively in this mill.

Dry Kilns at Grayburg.
The dry kilns at Grayburg are five in number, or the National variety, and are located in a building built of brick, walls 13 inches thick, the rooms 18x120, 24x120 and 22x120, the smallest dimension being given to one room, the middle dimension to one room and the largest dimension to three rooms. This dry kiln is situated 300 feet northeast of the saw mill.

The roof of these kilns is of wood covered with a 3-ply prepared roofing impervious, in a general way, to heat and cold. All woodwork of the kilns is covered with a preparation made by the H. W. Johns-Manville Company.

In taking care of these kilns, taking down the lumber, putting it in the sheds etc. twenty men are employed.

The capacity of these kilns will take care of all the lumber it will be necessary to dry in a speedy way at Grayburg.

The Planing Mill at Grayburg.
The planing mill at Grayburg is very complete. It is situated northwest of the dry kilns, 500 feet, and there are trams between the dry kiln and the planing mill. The building is 72x140 feet in area, and the power house is 40x50 feet in area, inclusive of the shaving room in the power house, which is 10x21 feet and is situated in the south end of the power house.

This power house is built of brick, walls 13 inches thick and 21 feet high, reinforced by five pilasters. The roof is of corrugated iron supported by steel trusses.

Features of the buildings in this section of the plant which should receive prominence are these: That along the entire north side of the planing mill for 140 feet is a lean-to or shed which covers a runway 24 feet wide; that both this covering or shed and the runway are extended from the east end of the planing mill a little south of east 251 feet to the cooling shed, and that this platform and shed are continued a little north of west to the dressed lumber shed, making a continuous covered way 24 feet wide, running via the planing mill from the cooling shed 640 feet, or a little less than an eighth of a mile, in length, which will enable the employees to load lumber in all kinds of rainy weather and also to convey the lumber from the cooling shed to the planing mill or past the planing mill to any car that entire distance of 640 feet, with protection from the rain. This also will naturally protect the dolley loads of lumber that are left standing during the noon hour or during the night, which are nearly always left wherever they may be at the time the whistle blows.

In fact, when the entire sheds at Grayburg are finished it is planned that they will all practically be linked together by covered ways which will not only protect the men and lumber from the rain but also in the extremely hot summer weather protect the men from the rays of the sun. Protection from the sun, of course, was not the original idea in building these covered ways, but the management is glad that it will be a collateral result of the enterprise.

The power for this planing mill is furnished by two 72-inch by 18-feet Casey-Hedges Company boilers, high pressure, set in one battery. The stacks from the furnaces are 36-inches in diameter, 100 feet high and two in number. In this boiler house are a Gardiner pump, 7x4-1/2x10, and a Houston, Stanwood & Gamble engine, 16x22 in size, rated at 200 horsepower, which transmit power to the line shaft of the planing mill by a 20-inch, 62-foot long, driving belt of the Sykes manufacture.

The planing mill machinery consists of one Berlin sizer, 14x30; one Hall & Brown Wood Working Machinery Company Mississippi planer, 8x18; one Hall & Brown Mississippi planer, 7x15; one S. A. Woods inside 12-inch molder; one Defour picket header; the necessary cut off saws; and besides these one flooring machine, one 10-inch molder; one 4-inch molder; two edgers and one resaw made by the Hall & Brown Wood Working Company, of St. Louis, Mo.

All the machinery is driven by a line shaft running below the planing mill floor and out of the way, tapering from 4-3/8 inches to 2-15/16 inches and running the full length of the building, this line shaft supported by bridge trees with self-oiling boxes.

The blow pipe system was installed by the National Blow Pipe & Manufacturing Company, of New Orleans, La., and is what is known as the slow speed, low power fan and piping system, which, when compared with the old method of installing systems of this kind for the last twenty years, is a saving in power and speed. In this plant the fan is being run 825 revolutions a minute and consumes only 70 horsepower to accomplish that speed, whereas the old method would have required 1,300 revolutions a minute and 140 horsepower.

One double 70-inch blower throws the shavings 825 feet to the saw mill dust house and into two dust collectors supported by iron stands on top of the dust house. The shavings are also delivered in the power house of the planing mill and are fed automatically into the furnaces.

This new system requires only one-half the power usually needed; for instance, 70 horsepower applied to one double 70-fan will carry sawdust 900 feet, where usually it requires 140 horsepower, running the blower 800 revolutions a minute where ordinarily is required from 1,200 to 1,800.

To run this planing mill at Grayburg 22 men are employed for the day run. It has a capacity of 150,000 feet a day and if run at night and in the day time both it would require 42 men, who could easily plane 250,000 feet of lumber day and night in the line of ordinary requirements.

Following Good Lumber at Grayburg.
All the lumber comes from the mill on an incline to the edge of the sorter rollers, and is thence carried on to a table 96 feet long, where the common or yard lumber is pulled off and put on dollies directly for the yards, while the rough good lumber goes on a direct line to an edge sorter which runs east and west on a line parallel with the saw mill, 150 feet north of the saw mill.

It is planned to dry at Grayburg all lumber No. 2 and better.

The lumber has been graded previously at the grader and when it reaches the level of the sorter two men place it in the grooves which carry it automatically on the rolls to twelve different pockets, according to the different grades and sizes as may be desired, where after it has been dumped down it is stacked by hand by six men who can readily handle from 80,000 to 100,000 feet daily.

This good lumber is put on crossways piling trucks standing parallel to the sorter. These trucks, after being filled, are transferred to a transfer car which runs on steel rails to the east. This car is handled by a stationary engine with wire rope and drum and the loads are thus placed opposite the particular kiln room which they are to enter.

When these loaded kiln cars are in the position referred to they are seventy feet south of the dry kilns.

This gives a storage room on the five kiln tracks, each 70 feet in length, which all told should hold, if filled, 250,000 feet of lumber.

The lumber is put through these five kilns and thence is handled to the north on five tracks, each 70 feet long, so that this gives storage for 250,000 feet of lumber loaded on kiln cars.

These tracks from the beginning when the cars are received from the sorting place are laid on an incline of three-sixteenths of one inch to the foot so as to make the ear movement easy and yet manageable.

When the lumber has sufficiently cooled after coming out of the kilns it is taken off of the kiln cars and put on dollies and taken into a large cooling shed, 96x260 feet long, which stands 304 feet north of the dry kilns.

If the lumber were piled solid in this shed it would hold approximately 3,000,000 feet. The lumber has come from four of the kiln rooms cross piled—that is, across the narrow way of the kiln—and it is laid down in this cooling shed in the same general direction, and as this cooling shed is aimed for just that, and at the same time in a sense is a storing shed— but will never be used for other than a cooling shed— the lumber is thus down practically without being turned around, and is in such shape that the dollies from the planing mill can be run along each pile and thus the loading be done at minimized expense of time and effort.

Two hundred and one feet west of the dry kilns is located another shed, a "small bin" shed, 114 feet wide, 280 feet long, built after the manner of the model shed at Willard, Tex., where is stored the rough dry lumber that is not needed for immediate use at the planing mill. The lumber here is put in these small bins endwise. The stacking foundation of this shed is independent of the main building, so the weight of the lumber is not on the building in any form. This shed will easily hold 3,000,000 feet of lumber taken care of in the manner mentioned.

The dressed lumber shed might be said to be situated on the northwest corner of an east and west and north and south square, in the northeast corner of which stands the cooling shed and in the southeast corner of which stand the dry kilns, and in the southwest corner of which stands the "small bin" shed. This dressed lumber shed, it will be remembered, is on the north end terminus of the 640 foot long covered way, where the lumber can be loaded so readily, rain or shine, and where both the lumber and the men can be protected from the rain and the shine. This shed is 114 feet wide and 400 feet long.

Of course when the writer was at Grayburg, in the latter part of July, some of these sheds were not yet finished, but now at the time of going to press with this article they have been finished and the plans then inaugurated have been fully carried out upon most approved lines.

It can readily be seen now how easy and inexpensive it will be to connect these four buildings, the cooling shed, the dressed lumber shed, the rough lumber or "small bin" shed and the dry kilns, and incidentally all of these places with the planing mill, and thus keep all the lumber handled through the planing mill practically under cover all the time.

Following the Rough Lumber at Grayburg.
If the rough lumber is timbers it is handled directly out of the west end of the saw mill, on the live rolls mentioned in the description of the saw mill, to a dock 120 feet long, at the side of which is a track that will hold at one time five cars, each of which may be loaded without interference with the work of the others.

If the rough lumber is common, of that variety not intended for kiln drying, it is put on dollies and handled by men or mules to the yards, where it is stacked down and up.

The stack bottoms are four feet from the ground and are very substantially built.

The tramways running toward the planing mill are 18 feet wide.

Northwest of the mill have already been erected ten cross tramways several hundred feet long, and one tramway leading down toward the planing mill.

Fire Protection at Grayburg.
The arrangements for fire protection at Grayburg are most excellent; everything is of the newest and highest type and all appliances are plentifully distributed.

There is a pump house of corrugated, galvanized iron, 18x24 feet in size, near the power plant at the northeast corner of the saw mill building. This power house contains an Underwriters 16x10x16 pump; a hot water affair, 10x6x12, and an American Well Works air compressor made at Aurora, Ill.

At that point is a well 380 feet deep, 8 inches in diameter, whose regular output averages fully 12,000 gallons of water an hour.

Eight by the pump house is a galvanized, corrugated iron tank raised a foot above the ground, 7 feet high and 24 feet in diameter, which contains, comfortably well filled, 24,000 gallons of water, and into it the water from the well is pumped regularly. The water from the tank goes for the use of the boilers; the surplus is pumped into the pond.

Between the dry kiln and the big lumber shed is a 40,000-gallon steel tank 80 feet high.

In the water mains are 1,900 feet of 6-inch and 3,055 feet of 4-inch cast iron piping, distributed through the plant and yards. There are 150 barrels and 150 buckets properly distributed. Throughout the plant are at least 20 fire plugs, and stored near each plug 100 feet of proper size hose.

Four men are employed here to take care of the fire department and act as watchmen.

Shipping Facilities at Grayburg.
The plant of the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company at Grayburg, Tex., one mile south of Sour Lake, has one of the most admirable shipping arrangements of any plant in the south. Situated as it is, directly upon the trunk lines of two great railways—the Southern Pacific system and the St. Louis & San Francisco system—it can as a shipper do a little bit of dictating to the railway companies and in the nature of things seldom if ever suffers from that malady known as car shortage.

The Southern Pacific tracks run in south of the mill very handily to the timber docks and are connected with the docks by means of the mill tramways. The St. Louis & San Francisco system has a siding in on the north side of the plant which lets its cars directly into the great loading dock, 640 feet long, running past the dressed shed, planing mill and cooling shed.

The lumber produced by the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company at Grayburg is marketed jointly by the Thompson & Tucker Lumber Company, of Houston, Tex., and the Ford & Isbell Lumber Company, of Ft. Worth, Tex.

Grayburg Miscellany.
A fairly clear view in a word picture way has already been given in the introduction of the grand division of this illustrated article of the town of Gray burg as it will be when finished.

One may leave Houston in the morning between 9 and 10 o'clock and get to Grayburg about noon, over the Frisco system, and return to Houston in the afternoon, leaving Grayburg about a quarter past 3 and arriving at Houston about 6 o'clock. Until recently that was the preferable way of making the trip. Now that the Southern Pacific railroad has made Grayburg a full stop, and all trains running between Nome on main line and Sour Lake, the end of that branch, it will be possible to go with comfort from Houston to Grayburg by way of Nome, leaving Houston in the morning between 6 and 7 and arriving at Grayburg between 8 and 9 o'clock, but until that was done the preferable way of going from Houston to Grayburg and return was via the St. Louis & San Francisco road.

Grayburg is very rapidly reached from Beaumont in less than an hour's time over the St. Louis & San Francisco each day, direct, and both night and morning over the Southern Pacific via Nome, the traveler not having to journey on into Sour Lake and come the mile back to Grayburg in a hack.

The citizens of Grayburg may now have the advantages of four white churches and two white schools at Sour Lake, but soon a superior school will be inaugurated, housed in an appropriate building, and a union church built at Grayburg.

Various fraternal orders have lodges at Sour Lake, and a Masonic lodge will likely be organized at Grayburg, for the accommodation of brothers of the fraternity.

Grayburg has connection with the Western Union telegraph at Sour Lake by telephone. Grayburg, through the Thompson & Ford Lumber Company, is connected with the Sour Lake telephone exchange and therefore with the Southwest Telephone & Telegraph Company for long distance communication.
Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections, additions, and contributions of new material.